3 depth forwards the Detroit Red Wings need to target in free agency

The Detroit Red Wings are expected to have a busy off-season, and here are three under-the-radar forwards general manager Steve Yzerman should consider signing.
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The Detroit Red Wings should consider adding Chandler Stephenson in free agency this summer.

With the Vegas Golden Knights going to be up against the salary cap this summer, more than a few of their players are expected to find themselves on the open market. One of those players I expect to become available is forward Chandler Stephenson.

Stephenson, 30, has played a lot of second-line minutes over the past four years for the Golden Knights. Before landing in Vegas, he seemed more like a third-line forward with upside, but like many other castaways, such as William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, he found a way to flourish in Sin City.

The Washington Capitals drafted Stephenson with the 77th pick in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Level Draft. The two-time Stanley Cup winner is just the type of player Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman seems to be drawn to. Stephenson is an outstanding two-way, 200-foot player with offensive upside but is rarely out of position defensively. Also, Stephenson is an excellent skater and, over the past four years, in particular, has rounded into an exceptional playmaker. This past season, he amassed 16 goals and 51 points while playing well over 18 minutes per night.

The 6-foot Saskatoon native also recorded two short-handed goals and added a short-handed assist; he also notched four power-play goals and 13 total power-play points. He's utilized in all situations, which is something the Red Wings cherish. Also, the veteran center produced a faceoff percentage of 52.6 this past season and a win rate of 58.1 in the dot the year prior.

Over the past three years, Stephenson has totaled 53 goals and 180 points over 235 games while maintaining a plus-8 rating. Over that span, he's only totaled 77 penalty minutes and a 15.5% shooting percentage. Stephenson doesn't exactly play 'heavy,' but he can provide more overall offense than, say, Robby Fabbri and also be utilized in all of Detroit's special teams opportunities. If Yzerman decides to try and move Fabbri's $4 million salary via trade this summer, Stephenson would be the perfect roster replacement.

Stephenson is coming off a four-year deal that carried a $2.75 million average annual value.